Almost four years ago, German luxury watch brand A. Lange & Söhne introduced the 1815 Tourbillon, a striking timepiece that established its watchmaking virtuosity in a Swiss luxury watches-dominated global market. It combined Lange's trademark subtle aesthetics with an exquisitely executed tourbillon that was visible at ‘6’ on the dial. It encompassed a patented Zero-Reset mechanism that zeros the seconds’ hand alongside a stop-seconds feature, allowing the user to stop the watch and then set it with one-second accuracy.
Now Lange has upended its game, at least aesthetically, by introducing the 1815 Tourbillon with Enamel Dial, in a limited edition of 100 pieces. The watch has a delicately crafted white enamel dial encased in a 39.5mm platinum case, and sports blue steel hands, a red-coloured ‘12’ marker, and the most interesting feature—a large aperture at 6 o’clock which reveals the complexity of the one-minute tourbillon, suspended beneath a black polished bridge.
The enamel forms a smooth, bright base for both the black polished tourbillon bridge and the long blued steel hands. Anthony de Haas, Director, Product Development at A. Lange & Söhne, says, “The basic idea was to build a credible bridge from the origins of watchmaking to the present.”
Among other features, the 1815 Tourbillon includes a movement of 3Hz, a 72-hour power reserve, and black hand-stitched alligator leather strap secured with a solid-platinum deployant buckle (that allows the strap to be widened so that the watch can be slipped on or taken off, without unbuckling). The style-meet-substance timepiece feathers in two of Lange’s strong points—traditional craftsmanship and modern micromechanics.
Understated in its aesthetics, the tourbillon has an exquisite manufacture calibre L102.1 set in a sapphire-crystal caseback and crowned by a diamond end-stone in a screwed gold chaton on the fourth-wheel bridge, which itself is decorated with freehand engraving.
The master craftsmen and watchmakers at Lange—a brand with its foundations in Glashütte, a town in eastern Germany—put the timepiece through 30 manual processes to craft each dial. The watch also harks back to the brand’s watchmaking heritage through details such as the red-fired number 12, blued-steel hands, Arabic numerals and a railway-track minute scale that references the legendary 19th- and 20th-century pocket watches.
Lange’s Watchmaking Heritage
The 1815 tourbillon with Enamel Dial is among the several watches that Lange hand-makes as part of its long watch-making tradition. To put the tourbillon into perspective, at the brand’s manufactory, even the most complex of mechanical movements are crafted by hand.
Founded by Ferdinand Adolph Lange in 1845 as Lange & Cie., the fine watchmaking company combines precision engineering with rare craftsmanship. Lange has innovated several families of watches, among them are the Lange 1 family, a legend among Lange timepieces (a combination of craftsmanship and technology), ‘Saxonia’ (focusing on micromechanical ingenuity), ‘Zeitwerk’
(with its ingenious digital display concept, the watch is considered a masterpiece), ‘Richard Lange’ (pays tribute to probably the most inventive member of the dynasty of Lange watchmakers) and the ‘1815 family’ (dedicated to the year in which Ferdinand Adolph Lange was born).
The 1815 family of watches melds several traditional watchmaking elements, such as three-quarter plate made of untreated German silver and the hand-engraved balance cock, and evokes memories of Lange’s historic pocket watches.
We have an exclusive interview with Anthony de Haas, Director, Product Development at A Lange & Söhne, on the limited edition 1815 tourbillon with an enamel dial.
What inspired Lange to equip the 1815 Tourbillon with an enamel dial?
In a way, the 1815 Tourbillon is one of the most quintessential A. Lange & Söhne timepieces, because it offers a well-balanced blend of the brand’s traditional aspects and pioneering inventions of the new era. The large tourbillon is combined with two patents, the Zero Reset and the stop-seconds feature for the tourbillon. These intricate mechanisms are characteristic of our understated approach to fine watchmaking. They work behind the scenes like ‘hidden heroes’with the single purpose of enhancing the accuracy and the functional performance of the watch. The enamel dial accentuates the classic design, which is adapted from Lange’s pocket watches with their Arabic numerals, “chemin de fer” minute scale and blued steel hands.
What is behind the decision to print the 12 in red?
The red 12 is a design statement with a nod to the history of fine watchmaking. It brought liveliness to the dial of a pocket watch—and continues to do so even today. Lange’s dedication to historic authenticity comes at a price: The red 12 has to be separately imprinted and stoved.
What was the biggest challenge involved in crafting the enamel dial?
Enamel is capricious and can’t be hurried. The process takes several days, during which the various steps have to be repeated over and over again. Absolute cleanliness is paramount because the inclusion of even the smallest particle of dust or dirt would mar the flawless surface.
Why does the watch have a different case height compared to the standard version?
Compared to the standard version with a case height of 11.1 millimetres, the new model is 0.2 millimetres higher. The applied enamel results in a slightly thicker dial than the standard dial made of solid silver.
What is so special about the patented stop-seconds mechanism and how does it interact with the Zero-Reset function?
While a stop-seconds mechanism is quite common in a modern wristwatch, it was for a long time not to be found in a tourbillon movement. It was considered to be impossible to stop the oscillating balance wheel inside the rotating tourbillon cage. Lange overcame this problem with a stop lever featuring a hinged V-shaped braking spring. It reliably stops the balance wheel, even if one arm of the spring is resting against one of the three cage posts. By interacting with the added Zero-Reset system, the tourbillon cage stops instantaneously and the seconds’hand jumps to the zero position, much like in a chronograph. That makes it easy to synchronise the watch to the second.
Deepali Nandwani is a journalist who keeps a close watch on the world of luxury.